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Precipitation Hardening Stainless Steels - Alloys, Properties, Fabrication Processes, Supplier Data

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Precipitation Hardening Stainless Steels –


Alloys, Properties, Fabrication Processes, Aalco

Supplier Data by aalco

Topics Covered
Background
Characterisation
Martensitic Alloys
Semi-austenitic Alloys
Austenitic Alloys
Properties
Strength
Heat Treatment
Typical Chemical Composition
Typical Mechanical Properties
Typical Physical Properties
Alloy Designations
Corrosion Resistance
Heat Resistance
Fabrication
Cold Working
Hot Working
Machinability
Welding
Applications
Supplied Forms

Background

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Precipitation Hardening Stainless Steels - Alloys, Properties, Fabrication Processes, Supplier Data

Precipitation hardening stainless steels are chromium and


nickel containing steels that provide an optimum
combination of the properties of martensitic and
austenitic grades. Like martensitic grades, they are
known for their ability to gain high strength through heat
treatment and they also have the corrosion resistance of
austenitic stainless steel.
The high tensile strengths of precipitation hardening
stainless steels come after a heat treatment process that
leads to precipitation hardening of a martensitic or
austenitic matrix. Hardening is achieved through the
addition of one or more of the elements Copper,
Featured Courses
Aluminium, Titanium, Niobium, and Molybdenum.
Materials Under
Stress The most well known precipitation hardening steel is 17-4
PH. The name comes from the additions 17% Chromium
Advanced Materials and 4% Nickel. It also contains 4% Copper and 0.3%
Masters Course Niobium. 17-4 PH is also known as stainless steel grade
630.
Microsystems and The advantage of precipitation hardening steels is that
Nanotechnology they can be supplied in a “solution treated” condition,
Masters which is readily machineable. After machining or another
fabrication method, a single, low temperature heat
treatment can be applied to increase the strength of the
steel. This is known as ageing or age-hardening. As it is
carried out at low temperature, the component undergoes
no distortion.

Characterisation
Precipitation hardening steels are characterised into one
of three groups based on their final microstructures after
heat treatment. The three types are: martensitic (e.g. 17-
4 PH), semi-austenitic (e.g. 17-7 PH) and austenitic (e.g.
A-286).

Martensitic Alloys
Martensitic precipitation hardening stainless steels have a
predominantly austenitic structure at annealing
temperatures of around 1040 to 1065°C. Upon cooling to
room temperature, they undergo a transformation that
changes the austenite to martensite.

Semi-austenitic Alloys
Unlike martensitic precipitation hardening steels,
annealed semi-austenitic precipitation hardening steels
are soft enough to be cold worked. Semi-austenitc steels
retain their austenitic structure at room temperature but
will form martensite at very low temperatures.

Austenitic Alloys
Austenitic precipitation hardening steels retain their
austenitic structure after annealing and hardening by
ageing. At the annealing temperature of 1095 to 1120°C
the precipitation hardening phase is soluble. It remains in
solution during rapid cooling. When reheated to 650 to
760°C, precipitation occurs. This increases the hardness
and strength of the material. Hardness remains lower
than that for martensitic or semi-austenitic precipitation
hardening steels. Austenitic alloys remain nonmagnetic.

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Precipitation Hardening Stainless Steels - Alloys, Properties, Fabrication Processes, Supplier Data

Properties

Strength
Yield strengths for precipitation-hardening stainless steels
are 515 to 1415 MPa. Tensile strengths range from 860
to 1520 MPa. Elongations are 1 to 25%. Cold working
before ageing can be used to facilitate even higher
strengths.

Heat Treatment
The key to the properties of precipitation hardening
stainless steels lies in heat treatment.
After solution treatment or annealing of precipitation
hardening stainless steels, a single low temperature “age
hardening” stage is employed to achieve the required
properties. As this treatment is carried out at a low
temperature, no distortion occurs and there is only
superficial discolouration. During the hardening process a
slight decrease in size takes place. This shrinking is
approximately 0.05% for condition H900 and 0.10% for
H1150.
Typical mechanical properties achieved for 17-4 PH after
solution treating and age hardening are given in the
following table. Condition designations are given by the
age hardening temperature in °F.
Table 1. Mechanical property ranges after solution
treating and age hardening

Hardening Temp Hardness Tensile


Cond.
and time (Rockwell C) Strength (MPa)
A Annealed 36 1100
H900 482°C, 1 hour 44 1310
H925 496°C, 4 hours 42 1170-1320
H1025 552°C, 4 hours 38 1070-1220
H1075 580°C, 4 hours 36 1000-1150
H1100 593°C, 4 hours 35 970-1120
H1150 621°C, 4 hours 33 930-1080

Typical Chemical Composition


Table 2. Typical chemical composition for stainless steel
alloy 17-4PH

17-4 PH
C 0.07%
Mn 1.00%
Si 1.00%
P 0.04%
S 0.03%
Cr 17.0%
Ni 4.0%
Cu 4.0%
Nb+Ta 0.30%

Typical Mechanical Properties


Table 3. Typical mechanical properties for stainless steel
alloy 17-4PH

Grade 17-4PH Annealed Cond 900 Cond 1150


Tensile Strength (MPa) 1100 1310 930
Elongation A5 (%) 15 10 16

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Precipitation Hardening Stainless Steels - Alloys, Properties, Fabrication Processes, Supplier Data

Proof Stress 0.2% (MPa) 1000 1170 724


Elongation A5 (%) 15 10 16

Typical Physical Properties


Table 4. Typical physical properties for stainless steel
alloy 17-4PH
Property Value
Density 7.75 g/cm3
Melting Point °C
Modulus of Elasticity 196 GPa
Electrical Resistivity 0.080x10-6 Ω.m
Thermal Conductivity 18.4 W/m.K at 100°C
Thermal Expansion 10.8x10-6 /K at 100°C

Alloy Designations
Stainless steel 17-4 PH also corresponds to a number of
following standard designations and specifications.
Table 5. Alternate designations for stainless steel alloy
17-4PH
Euronorm UNS BS En Grade
1.4542 S17400 - - 630

Corrosion Resistance
Precipitation hardening stainless steels have moderate to
good corrosion resistance in a range of environments.
They have a better combination of strength and corrosion
resistance than when compared with the heat treatable
400 series martensitic alloys. Corrosion resistance is
similar to that found in grade 304 stainless steel.
In warm chloride environments, 17-4 PH is susceptible to
pitting and crevice corrosion. When aged at 550°C or
higher, 17-4 PH is highly resistant to stress corrosion
cracking. Better stress corrosion cracking resistance
comes with higher ageing temperatures.
Corrosion resistance is low in the solution treated
(annealed) condition and it should not be used before
heat treatment.

Heat Resistance
17-4 PH has good oxidation resistance. In order to avoid
reduction in mechanical properties, it should not be used
over its precipitation hardening temperature. Prolonged
exposure to 370-480°C should be avoided if ambient
temperature toughness is critical.

Fabrication
Fabrication of all stainless steels should be done only with
tools dedicated to stainless steel materials or tooling and
work surfaces must be thoroughly cleaned before use.
These precautions are necessary to avoid cross
contamination of stainless steel by easily corroded metals
that may discolour the surface of the fabricated product.

Cold Working
Cold forming such as rolling, bending and hydroforming
can be performed on 17-4PH but only in the fully
annealed condition. After cold working, stress corrosion

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Precipitation Hardening Stainless Steels - Alloys, Properties, Fabrication Processes, Supplier Data

resistance is improved by re-ageing at the precipitation


hardening temperature.

Hot Working
Hot working of 17-4 PH should be performed at 950°-
1200°C. After hot working, full heat treatment is
required. This involves annealing and cooling to room
temperature or lower. Then the component needs to be
precipitation hardened to achieve the required mechanical
properties.

Machinability
In the annealed condition, 17-4 PH has good
machinability, similar to that of 304 stainless steel. After
hardening heat treatment, machining is difficult but
possible.
Carbide or high speed steel tools are normally used with
standard lubrication. When strict tolerance limits are
required, the dimensional changes due to heat treatment
must be taken into account

Welding
Precipitation hardening steels can be readily welded using
procedures similar to those used for the 300 series of
stainless steels.
Grade 17-4 PH can be successfully welded without
preheating. Heat treating after welding can be used to
give the weld metal the same properties as for the parent
metal. The recommended grade of filler rods for welding
17-4 PH is 17-7 PH.

Applications
Due to the high strength of precipitation hardening
stainless steels, most applications are in aerospace and
other high-technology industries.
Applications include:
• Gears
• Valves and other engine components
• High strength shafts
• Turbine blades
• Moulding dies
• Nuclear waste casks

Supplied Forms

17-4 PH is typically supplied by Aalco in the following


forms:
• Round bar
• Hexagonal bar
• Billet
Source: Aalco

For more information on this source please visit Aalco

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Precipitation Hardening Stainless Steels - Alloys, Properties, Fabrication Processes, Supplier Data

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